The Sennebogen 880 EQ at the Redpath Sugar loading facility will unload ships 50 percent faster than the two rope cranes it is replacing.
Located right on the north shore of Lake Ontario, the Redpath Sugar factory in Toronto, Canada, relies on ships plying the St. Lawrence Seaway to bring raw sugar from South America and the Caribbean to the inland factory. The plant ships out sugar products nationwide for 12 months of the year but, as a winter port where temperatures can dip to minus 4F, shipping and transportation can be a challenge through a large part of the year.
As a result, the Redpath dock is pressed all year long to “make sugar while the sun shines.”
The President of Redpath Sugar, Jonathan Bamberger, acknowledges that the need to move sugar faster off the docks is as much about economics as it is about timing.
“At that time, finding ships to carry the sugar was very difficult, and having them berthed at the dock was costly. Our focus for the new ship unloader was to get the ships in and out as fast as possible.”
Starting in 2007, the Redpath engineering team was assigned the task of upgrading Redpath’s aging cranes and transfer facility.
Last spring, when the Seaway opened after the winter, Redpath was ready to start clearing its dock at a greater rate than ever, due to its newly commissioned Sennebogen 880 EQ material handler. Ironically, after three years of planning, Redpath’s choice of Sennebogen’s equilibriated machine was an “11th hour” decision that led to a hectic and challenging winter.
The need to replace two Colby rope cranes had been forecast by Redpath as long as 10 years ago. After more than 50 years of service on the harbor, the two cranes were becoming costly to maintain and the demand for throughput was rising. Redpath receives more than two dozen ships at its dock each year. The Colby cranes, with their 3 buckets, worked in tandem to transload the 20,000-ton cargos of raw sugar to a hopper, where a conveyor moved the product to the factory’s storage facility. The goal for the upgrade project was to deploy a single unloader that would increase the transfer rate by at least 50 percent over the combined production of the two Colby cranes.
Redpath’s initial survey of equipment and practices led them to ports and sugar refineries around the world. It was then that they first encountered the concept of an equilibrium crane.
“I had the opportunity to see an equilibriated crane in operation but was not yet familiar with Sennebogen and their 880 EQ unit,” said Jonathan Dunn, Redpath’s manager of engineering projects.
“The idea was attractive to me immediately. I appreciated the energy efficiency of the counterbalance design and the ’positive pick’ of the material handler’s fixed boom.”
While rope cranes rely on the weight of the bucket or grapple to dig into the pile, material handlers can use the hydraulics to push their attachment down and achieve a higher filling rate of the attachment. The result, Dunn surmised, would be a deeper, more efficient bite into dense loads of sugar.
Dunn reported that he also was struck by the quiet operation of electric driven material handlers compared to conventional cranes. As the city of Toronto has worked to develop its downtown harbor front into recreational and community spaces, Redpath is the one industrial facility that has chosen to remain. To preserve its place here, Redpath has adopted a number of environmental and citizenship commitments to the area. Minimizing noise and emissions from the dock was a high priority on the engineering team’s equipment criteria.
However, when the engineering team compiled its initial list of potential suppliers, Sennebogen’s name was not on it. While Sennebogen material handlers have emerged as North America’s leader in the scrap, recycling, waste and material handling industries over the past 10 years, the green machines are just now beginning to make inroads into North American ports.
“At that point, I still wasn’t familiar with Sennebogen,” reported Dunn. “After we put out our initial request for proposals, we had four bids, but none of them included an equilibriated machine. We narrowed the choice down to two single-jib rope cranes, but we weren’t really totally satisfied with either choice.”
Despite misgivings about noise levels and capacity in the two proposals, the team found itself at a point where a decision was needed so the project could move forward. However, with time running out, Dunn received a phone call from Trevor Ash of Top Lift Enterprises in Stoney Creek, Ontario.
“Trevor said he had heard that Redpath was in the market, and could he have a half-hour to show us what they have?”
Top Lift’s presentation covered the range of Sennebogen machines. Among them was one of the firm’s newest developments: the 176 ton (160 t) model 880 EQ counterbalanced material handler.
“Not to make too much of it,” Dunn said, “but for us, it really was love at first sight.”
Top Lift was invited to make a technical presentation on the capabilities of the 880 EQ. Dunn said the team members were encouraged by photographs of the 880 EQ.
“We wondered why one manufacturer had recommended against its own material handler, and had proposed a rope crane for us instead. So we were interested in hearing why Sennebogen believed its EQ machine was the better solution.”
Prior to the final RFP being called, Constantino Lannes, president of Sennebogen LLC, invited members of the Redpath engineering team to meet with the Sennebogen engineering team in Germany and to see these machines in operation and talk to other operations people. As well, they got the opportunity to further define their requirements.
With three proposals now on the table, the Redpath team presented the bidders with a further challenge. Along with the new crane, the project called for installation of the complete transloading system, including a new 20 ft. square hopper and conveyors to deliver sugar to the existing conveyors in the storage shed. The whole system also would have to conform to the load limits of the existing dock.
“We were looking for a total turnkey solution — to be able to just walk out the door to the dock, turn it on and go,” Dunn said.
Of the three suppliers, only Top Lift was well-prepared for the engineering team’s turnkey request. With diverse interests in industrial cranes, mobile material handlers and earthmoving equipment, Top Lift also is closely connected to Greco Contracting, a specialist in steel fabricating and construction. The Redpath project was a natural opportunity for the two firms to work together on an integrated solution.
“This was a very large project for us,” Dunn admitted. “It was very stressful. Seeing the strength and resources of the organizations we had to work with in Sennebogen, Top Lift and Greco, it was a great relief.”
The team’s confidence was confirmed when Dunn was invited to Germany to see the completed new machine operate before being shipped to Canada.
“Seeing it fully assembled and tested at the factory took a lot off my mind. Once it got to our dock, all we would have to do is put it back together the same way.”
Redpath’s new machine, a 400,000 lbs. (181,437 kg) gantry-mounted material handler equipped with a Canadian sourced Rotobec 11-yard clamshell, was able to traverse the length of the dock on four 5-wheel races. The gantry tracks are offset in height, with the races next to the factory wall elevated to maximize dock space at ground level. The Sennebogen large port cab operator’s station, designed specifically for port operations, is mounted 30 ft. (9 m) above the dock level and extends a full 19 ft. (5.9 m) out from its swing center to provide a clear direct view into the ship’s hold and into the loading hopper.
Top Lift and Sennebogen found they still had some hurdles to overcome. Delivery plans were complicated by winter conditions on the Seaway and early blizzards along the overland truck route. When the machine was finally delivered to Toronto, the work crews were restricted to a landing area on the dock just 30 by 30 ft., backing onto a busy downtown street, to unload the giant boom and erect the new loading structure. Despite these difficulties, Top Lift and Greco had the project on track by the time Toronto’s shipping season reopened, with construction on the dock completed and the 880 EQ operational. Dunn credited the Sennebogen team for making the extra effort to keep to their original schedule.
“Technically, they may have missed the initial delivery date due to Mother Nature, but they made the deadline. They simply did everything they had to do.”
Since then, Top Lift has continued to work with Redpath’s Engineering team and the dock staff to refine the system’s configuration and orient Redpath operators on the new machine. As equipped, the new unloader has the capacity to move as much as 18,000 lbs. (8,160 kg) of sugar per cycle, compared to the 4,900 lbs. (2,250 kg) maximum of each former crane. Operators also are becoming more and more comfortable with the equipment. During the most recent time trials, Redpath operators were closing in on the peak target of 600 tons/hr.
“In effect, the company was looking for a 50 percent increase in total productivity, using one machine instead of two,” said Dunn. “I have no doubt we’ll get there.”
Operators are continuing to train and Dunn expects to make further improvements to the dock operation, as he and his control team explore options for automating parts of the loading system.
“Having gone through it all now, we can see that Sennebogen was the right choice,” Dunn said. “There’s simply no way we would be this close to our original goals at this point if we had gone any other way.”
For more information, call (704) 347-4910 or visit www.sennebogen-na.com.
Going the Extra Several Hundred Miles
When Redpath Sugar issued its PO to Top Lift Enterprises for a new 880 EQ material handler, Sennebogen put the machine on an accelerated timetable. Redpath had very little flexibility in its timeframe for completing the construction and installation work.
“It had to be in the winter months, while the dock is idle,” explained Trevor Ash of Top Lift. “That gave us a delivery deadline at the end of August, so we could be operational by spring.”
With production commencing in December, the machine was manufactured, tested and ready to ship in under 11 months. But then Mother Nature intervened.
Sennebogen originally planned to deliver the big machine from Germany directly to the Redpath dock via the St. Lawrence Seaway, 900 mi. inland from the Atlantic Ocean to Toronto Harbor on Lake Ontario. That plan, however, was confounded at the last minute. The shipping company informed Sennebogen that it was unable to guarantee the machine’s arrival before the winter freeze on the Seaway. Sennebogen hastily put together an alternate plan, avoiding the Seaway by way of the Port of Baltimore, then by truck 500 mi through New York state to Toronto.
But, as the project team learned, overland routes can have problems in winter, too. With waivers and police escorts carefully mapped out on back roads, Redpath’s 880 EQ was on its way through New York when the early December blizzards of 2010 upset the schedule again. As Redpath’s Jonathan Dunn recalled, “The police were called away. The roads were snowed in. The truck and driver were stranded at the side of the road for 15 days.”
The new unit finally arrived at the Toronto dock just a few days ahead of the New Year. With limited time, the installation team also was severely restricted in space. Redpath’s 30-ft. wide dock extends out into the water and along the length of the factory wall, and is sealed off at the end by the streets of downtown Toronto. The material handler’s massive boom and undercarriage components had to be lifted into place by cranes operating from a 30 sq. ft. landing at the street end of the dock.
The work crews from Top Lift, Greco and Sennebogen were able to bring in the project on time to meet Dunn’s schedule.
“I really have to give all the credit to the service team —technically, they may have missed the initial delivery date due to Mother Nature, but they made the deadline. They simply did everything they had to do.”